Friday, 8 January 2016


This post is dedicated to all my past, present and fellow coaches.

As I write this I am on hold with the Ministry of Transportation. For me, they may as well be the Ministry of Magic, as they seem equally impossible to get a hold of. I did my driving assessment on November 19th and have been waiting ever since to get my licence back. They are holding my freedom hostage. In Washington state they don't even revoke licences after a spinal cord injury! 22 minutes and holding...sorry, on to more relevant matters.

The following is not something I remember, but have been told. When Theo was let into the hospital room in Goderich, where I was being prepped for air transport to London, he was able to speak to me, and I to him. I said "I'm sorry" and that I could not feel my legs. To Theo, it wasn't important what I said, just that I could speak to him and that I appeared to still be me. Many people who visited me during my hospital stay said the same thing - I am still me. I am just finding myself in a different role than what I am accustomed to. I am adjusting, but slowly. Last night I had a bit of an epiphany (thank you to the inventor of spell check), I'll explain.

I had a message from a former student/athlete on Wednesday night. She had gone up to Duntroon with the team for the first Nordic event of the season. They had a fabulous day with lots of time on snow, but she expressed to me how much I was missed. I was not there to cheer, encourage or laugh with them. This girl, being wise beyond her years, went on to explain how she understands that I have my own race to train for now, and she was thinking of that as she was skiing up the biggest, toughest hill. She made me cry as I read her message.

So I was thinking of this last night after getting home from another day of Eksoskeleton (875 steps by the way). I miss that part of my life - coaching is a part of me. But I have new sidelines to cheer from now. The people I have met in therapy, both in Wingham and at Parkwood, all have the same end goal - improvement. We don't know what the finish line looks like, we have not pre-skied the course and we don't know how long it will take. But we know we have to train our butts off or we will never get to find out. So we cheer for each other. We coach each other. I love getting to spend time with these people, share stories, ideas, things that have worked and/or not worked. We make plans and we even compete. They are my new team.

So although I don't get to coach, I am being coached - another role reversal. Before, when I was training, I had training partners. Now, I have several coaches and many mentors. I have a new respect for the difference a coach can make. A good coach makes you want to attend practice, tells you what you have improved upon and what you still need to work on. They make it fun, know how to push you to do more and celebrate in your successes.

I had a dream yesterday morning. It was the first dream since my accident in which I was NOT walking. I was in a pool, and I was saying to someone who was with me "well, if I am paralyzed, then why can I do this?" and I proceeded to move my legs under water! I think this says a lot about what is going on in my head. It says that swimming is helping. It says that my coaches are making a difference. We have seen a lot of improvements in my abilities in the pool and on land over the last six weeks. I think it also says that I am as stubborn as I ever was before, as many would attest to - you can't tell me I'm paralyzed...

So although I am MIA from my regular role as teacher, coach and mentor, I find myself settling into my new role as athlete, teammate and student. Next week we are putting up an Ekso leaderboard at the Parkwood PT gym - let the competition begin!

So... 43 minutes later and apparently I have a letter in the mail! Woot woot! What will it say?


  1. Change in dream patterns reveals your subconscious GPS is "Recalculating... Recalculating..."
    Blessings to you as you adjust and keep training!

  2. I thought the same thing as Ernest about your dreams. How very interesting and intriguing to you, and thanks for sharing that with us. Each person goes through life transitioning into different roles due to physical or other changes, and your description of the process is so very true. I love how you used your time on hold, and thanks for letting us know that a letter is in the mail, hopefully to give you some of your freedom back if it includes permission to drive again.

    Your description of the training process is also right-on. So great! A leaderboard NEVER motivates me beyond giving me something to look at and cheer those on who care about that. But, having a person cheering me on and pushing me to do one more than I did before is something that motivates me, for sure.

    Your student was so kind to correspond with you. I doubt that most students understand how meaningful these relationships and exchanges can become in the lives of a teacher.


  3. You amaze me and inspire me, Julie. I can only imagine how much your fellow trainees benefit from having you cheering them on as you take on every new challenge, too. You'll have to share a pic of the leaderboard. Keep moving forward and know that my whole family (and a whole bunch of others reading and following your journey too, I'll bet) are rooting for you and cheering whenever there's another gain. Sending love and hugs. We are with you!